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Duck Season

Cover of Duck Season

Duck Season

Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France's Last Best Place
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A delicious memoir about the eight months food writer David McAninch spent in Gascony—a deeply rural region of France virtually untouched by mass tourism—meeting extraordinary characters and eating the best meals of his life.

Though he'd been a card-carrying Francophile all of his life, David McAninch knew little about Gascony, an ancient region in Southwest France mostly overlooked by Americans. Then an assignment sent him to research a story on duck. After enjoying a string of rich meals—Armagnac-flambéed duck tenderloins; skewered duck hearts with chanterelles; a duck-confit shepherd's pie strewn with shavings of foie gras—he soon realized what he'd been missing.

McAninch decided he needed a more permanent fix. He'd fallen in love—not only with the food but with the people, and with the sheer unspoiled beauty of the place. So, along with his wife and young daughter, he moved to an old millhouse in the small village of Plaisance du Gers, where they would spend the next eight months living as Gascons. Duck Season is the delightful, mouthwatering chronicle of McAninch's time in this tradition-bound corner of France. There he herds sheep in the Pyrenees, harvests grapes, attends a pig slaughter, hunts for pigeons, distills Armagnac, and, of course, makes and eats all manner of delicious duck specialties—learning to rewire his own thinking about cooking, eating, drinking, and the art of living a full and happy life.

With wit and warmth, McAninch brings us deep into this enchanting world, where eating what makes you happy isn't a sin but a commandment and where, to the eternal surprise of outsiders, locals' life expectancy is higher than in any other region of France. Featuring a dozen choice recipes and beautiful line drawings, Duck Season is an irresistible treat for Francophiles and gourmands alike.

A delicious memoir about the eight months food writer David McAninch spent in Gascony—a deeply rural region of France virtually untouched by mass tourism—meeting extraordinary characters and eating the best meals of his life.

Though he'd been a card-carrying Francophile all of his life, David McAninch knew little about Gascony, an ancient region in Southwest France mostly overlooked by Americans. Then an assignment sent him to research a story on duck. After enjoying a string of rich meals—Armagnac-flambéed duck tenderloins; skewered duck hearts with chanterelles; a duck-confit shepherd's pie strewn with shavings of foie gras—he soon realized what he'd been missing.

McAninch decided he needed a more permanent fix. He'd fallen in love—not only with the food but with the people, and with the sheer unspoiled beauty of the place. So, along with his wife and young daughter, he moved to an old millhouse in the small village of Plaisance du Gers, where they would spend the next eight months living as Gascons. Duck Season is the delightful, mouthwatering chronicle of McAninch's time in this tradition-bound corner of France. There he herds sheep in the Pyrenees, harvests grapes, attends a pig slaughter, hunts for pigeons, distills Armagnac, and, of course, makes and eats all manner of delicious duck specialties—learning to rewire his own thinking about cooking, eating, drinking, and the art of living a full and happy life.

With wit and warmth, McAninch brings us deep into this enchanting world, where eating what makes you happy isn't a sin but a commandment and where, to the eternal surprise of outsiders, locals' life expectancy is higher than in any other region of France. Featuring a dozen choice recipes and beautiful line drawings, Duck Season is an irresistible treat for Francophiles and gourmands alike.

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About the Author-
  • David McAninch is the features editor at Chicago magazine and was an editor at Saveur for nine years. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York magazine, the New York Daily News, Newsday, Rodale's Organic Life, and Departures, among other publications. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 30, 2017
    In this story of an American cooking his way through France, McAninch does not just go through the motions in order to check his experience off some professional and personal bucket list. He moves his family to the rural area of Gascony for nearly a year and harmoniously integrates himself with the locals; he pays respects to deeply rooted traditions, and falls in love with the area in beautiful and unexpected ways; and he educates readers about hunting and cooking duck. While living in a historic mill, McAninch, his wife, and his young daughter, are at the mercy of every challenge of French living. Among minor language barriers, ancient plumbing issues, and maze-like markets, the seasoned food writer gains a valuable education. McAninch discovers which ducks (mullard vs. mallard) are for cooking; he learns more about the treasure, and staple, that is foie gras; and he observes the subtleties of welcoming guests or offering directions in an area uncharted by Google Maps. Most importantly, through McAninch’s warm and fluid delivery, readers come away with a taste and respect for a regional commodity, a handful of enticing recipes, and a new appreciation for friendships unfettered by origin or boundary.

  • Publishers Weekly "[McAninch] falls in love with the area in beautiful and unexpected ways... Readers come away with a taste and respect for a regional commodity, a handful of enticing recipes, and a new appreciation for friendships unfettered by origin or boundary."
  • Huffington Post "[Duck Season] stimulates our most lustful pleasures, namely, the discovery of a new place through its cuisine...If poetry is to literature what cuisine is to culture, then lusty [Duck Season] offers poetically seductive words."
  • Booklist "Filled with descriptions of food that will have readers' mouths watering, this book is a heartfelt foray into an often overlooked area of France... McAninch's ode to the people, food, and culture of Gascony is a traveler's delight. Readers will be...ready to hop on a flight to France"
  • Ariane Daguin, founder and CEO of D'Artagnan Foods and a James Beard Foundation Awards Committee member "This is the definitive book on the Gascon spirit...readers of any origin will want to buy a plane ticket to the Southwest of France the minute they put down the book."
  • James Oseland, author of the James Beard Award–winning Cradle of Flavor "A magical book about an overlooked part of France where the civilized things in life-namely cooking, eating, and gustatory pleasure-take center stage. Duck Season is a heartwarming reminder to celebrate what matters."
  • Rick Bayless "...[W]ith deep knowledge...and a wordsmith's mastery, McAninch unveils the uniqueness of a particular collection of French folks, their kitchens and dining tables, their hills and valleys, and their particular (dare I say peculiar) history, leaving me with a near-insatiable desire to get to know this place firsthand."
  • Mark Adams, author of the New York Times bestsellerTurn Right at Machu Picchu "Employing an embedded journalist's curiosity, a gourmand's appetite and a humorist's light touch, [McAninch] poses ..., 'In an age of globalized everything, is there anyplace left that still feels truly French?' The answer...is absolument."
  • Christian Science Monitor "[I]t is impossible to read Duck Season and not consider devising at least one adventurous, authentic excursion. McAninch's writing is steeped in the notion that one need not go far to...experience a place, its people, and its oddities...An adventure in your own kitchen can be the best kind."
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Duck Season
Duck Season
Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France's Last Best Place
David McAninch
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